Mayor Workman Says Hillsboro Resident Annexation Fears Are Unfounded
Hillsboro, WV – Rumors of annexation prompted several people who live just north of Hillsboro to attend Tuesday’s town council meeting.
Hillsboro Mayor Anne Walker and town attorney Eugene Simmons did their best to assure these residents that the town is not considering annexation. Instead, Walker and Simmons have been poring over courthouse records just to find out where the legal boundaries of the town lie.
In 1910, thirty-four years after the Hillsboro was chartered, a new survey of the town was filed at the Pocahontas County Courthouse. The 1910 survey is recognized by county officials as defining the official boundaries of the town. However, Simmons says he has yet to find a court order on file that makes the 1910 survey official.
The differences between the two surveys are significant. Simmons says the 1886 survey of Hillsboro encompasses some 320 acres. The 1910 survey only covers 180 acres. There is a difference of 1800 feet between the northern boundaries of the two surveys. Because of this, the 1910 survey places First and Second Streets, as well as a portion of Payne Avenue, outside of town boundaries.
Simmons says combing through the century-old records in the offices of the County Clerk and Circuit Clerk has been a time-consuming process.
“The reason it’s difficult to find is they don’t index those records too well,” says Simmons. “Most of those records are all hand-written, and it’s difficult sometimes to read them. You almost have to have a reading glass to read them and figure out exactly what they are.”
Despite these challenges, Simmons says he hopes to conclude his courthouse research in time for Hillsboro Town Council’s next meeting in August.
While several people at Tuesday’s meeting said they were concerned about higher taxes and annexation, Mayor Walker stressed once again that the town is not moving toward annexation.
“Right now, we’re not trying to annex anybody,” says Walker. “Right now, we’re just trying to get the legal documents together to actually see if there is a defined boundary that was legally approved. We’re not even recommending we go through the annexation process at this point, because we don’t have enough background information to make that decision. That’s why we’re doing a title search to see if the current boundaries were ever approved.”
Walker says clarifying the boundary issue will help clarify who has the right to vote in town elections.
“The next election is going to be coming up in 2011,” she says, “and we need to straighten out this town boundary issue before that period of time. So that’s our motivation in general as to why this needs to be examined.”
In other matters, council denied a request from Wallace Cochran to revert the names of town streets that were renamed last summer. Council approved a contract for mowing and weeding from George Gladwell, who submitted the sole bid for the contract after it was advertised in The Pocahontas Times. Council woman Sandy Gladwell recused herself from the discussion and the vote on the contract.
Council approved budget revisions to the 2011 budget and adopted a sourcewater protection plan, as recommended by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
The next regular meeting of the Hillsboro Town Council is scheduled for August 10 at the Hillsboro Library.